by Raynard Churchwell
As the end of this year’s soccer season draws near, only the best of the best remain. On Tuesday evening, the number one ranked McIntosh Lady Chiefs punched their ticket for the Final Four as they beat the second ranked Decatur Lady Bulldogs 4-1. The win brings the Lady Chiefs to a record of 19-1-1 on the season as they look to carry that momentum towards a state championship.
The game started out with physical play from both teams. The referees were very lenient with their calls, and neither team showed any fear. After a few minutes of tough defense from both teams, McIntosh’s Mackensi Rohn scored the first goal of the match at the 30:54 mark. The shot was placed in perfect position in the corner of the net as Decatur’s goalkeeper was unable to jump high enough to block it.
A few minutes later, a hard tackle in the box drew a penalty to give McIntosh’s Skylar Dzenis a PK. She nailed the kick with ease to increase the lead, and McIntosh would lead the game 2-0 at the half and maintain total confidence going into the next half.
The physicality ramped up in the second half. Coaches and fans on both sides grew increasingly irritated with the referees as the whistles were minimal. McIntosh fought through the tenacious defense of Decatur as Bailey Wagenknecht scored a goal at 31:43. It could have been a dagger shot to seal the game, but Decatur had other plans as they scored a goal just three minutes later, cutting McIntosh’s lead down to two scores to gave the Decatur fans a sense of renewed energy.
In the end, the Chiefs proved to be too much for Decatur to handle as Wagenknecht scored her second goal of the day to ice the game and gave McIntosh the victory.
“I am so proud of the girls, just for digging deep and working hard against a very talented Decatur team,” McIntosh coach Casey Kreitner said. “We’re just going to keep working hard. It’s been a total team effort, and we just have to keep it going.”
McIntosh will host the Riverwood Lady Raiders in the 5A State Playoff Semifinals on Tuesday, May 14 at 6 p.m. The winner will earn a spot in the state championship.
In other quarterfinals action, a little road soccer didn’t scare the Whitewater Lady Wildcats, as they punched their Final Four ticket with a 3-0 victory over Grady. They travel to play Carrollton on Tuesday.
Starr’s Mill came up short in their bid for the semifinals on the road at Carrollton. A scoreless regulation was not enough to decide a victory, but the Trojans struck in overtime for the victory.
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